ENU releases alternative to school revamp proposal

East Nashville United (ENU), a parent-led coalition formed after the announcement of sweeping changes to the Stratford-Maplewood clusters, has released an alternative plan to address the needs of community schools.

Released in the aftermath of a contentious town hall meeting to discuss schools director Jesse Register’s ‘Third-Way’ proposal, the ENU plan attempts to strengthen neighborhood schools while setting out meaningful choice for parents who want to choose a school outside their zone.

“Although Dr. Register has started to listen to the community, we’re still concerned about the district’s piece-meal approach to all of our children’s’ education,” said John Haubenreich, the chair of East Nashville United.

“We are distressed that Dr. Register is still making key decisions like turnaround plans and charter conversions behind closed doors.

“We’re hoping that our proposal can start a more substantive discussion on the individualized needs of our schools and how we can address those needs.”

The ENU plan touches on the main issues of Metro School’s education plan: school choice, turnarounds, charter conversions, and proposed pathway changes. Opting for a simpler and more collegial approach to Dr. Register’s all-choice model, the ENU plan seeks to limit charter conversions of priority schools to cases where the charter operator has earned the support of the school community, as well as bring in an independent turnaround team that can act where the District has failed to do so.

Other highlights of the plan include:

• Transportation for parents who want to choose a school outside their zone

• No requirement for a parent to choose a school—if a parent does not take action that means the child is enrolled in his or her zoned school.

• Using independent Turnaround Teams to guide school turnarounds

• A dedicated, $10 million Turnaround Fund

• A community-input requirement for all school closures, consolidations and pathway changes

Although Dr. Register has pushed back a board vote on most aspects of his education plan until May 2015, he may decide to turnover an East Nashville priority school to KIPP as early as next month.

“A hostile charter takeover will lead to a chaotic and disruptive learning environment for any child,” Haubenreich said. “Our plan recognizes this and tries to lay the groundwork for a more even-handed conversation about how to help all our children learn at the highest levels.”